Known as Phoenix dactylifera / date palm, is a palm in the genus of phoenix grown for its edible sweet fruit.
- Dates are oval-cylindrical with measurements of 3-7 cm long, and 2-3 cm (0.79-1.18 in) diameter, and when they ripe, the colour range from bright red to bright yellow in colour, depending on variety.
- Dates contain a single stone about 2-2.5 cm (0.79-0.98 in) long and 6-8 mm (0.24-0.31 in) thick. Three main cultivar groups of date exist: soft (e.g. ‘Barhee’, ‘Halawy’, ‘Khadrawy’, ‘Medjool’), semi-dry (e.g. ‘Dayri’, ‘Deglet Noor’, ‘Zahdi’), and dry (e.g. ‘Thoory’).
- The type of fruit depends on the glucose, fructose and sucrose content.
Dry or soft dates are eaten out-of-hand, or may be pitted and stuffed with fillings such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, candied orange and lemon peel, tahini, marzipan or cream cheese. Pitted dates are also referred to as stoned dates. Partially dried pitted dates may be glazed with glucose syrup for use as a snack food. Dates can also be chopped and used in a range of sweet and savory dishes, from tajines (tagines) in Morocco to puddings, ka’ak (types of Arab cookies) and other dessert items.
Dates can also be dehydrated, ground and mixed with grain to form a nutritious stockfeed.
Recent innovations include chocolate-covered dates and products such as sparkling date juice, used in some Islamic countries as a non-alcoholic version of champagne, for special occasions and religious times such as Ramadan. When Muslims break fast in the evening meal of Ramadan, it is traditional to eat a date first.